Chile's President Gabriel Boric said at the end of April that he would nationalize the country's lithium industry to boost its economy and protect its environment.
"This is the best chance we have at transitioning to a sustainable and developed economy. We can't afford to waste it. Future lithium contracts would only be issued as public-private partnerships with state control." Boric said in an address televised nationwide.
In Boric’s speech he justified his actions and highlighted the economic and social reasons behind the nationalization and focused on environmental consciousness. Chile’s nationalization of lithium shows a coming international wave of protectionist policies revolving around Rare Earth Elements (REEs).The government would not terminate current lithium contracts, but hoped companies would be open to state participation before they expire.
Chile is one side of the Lithium Triangle that includes Argentina and Bolivia. Chile has the world’s third-largest reserves behind its neighbours, but its extraction efforts have allowed Chile to outproduce everyone globally. Earlier this year Tesla executives met with Chilean authorities to increase business cooperation as the EV maker plans to secure larger supplies of lithium.
Boric promised that the new, state-owned company would do more than just collect profit from a natural resource. The company is betting on an emerging technology called Direct Lithium Extraction. This process uses less water and electricity and produces lithium in a more environmentally sustainable manner.